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Ecol Appl. 2013 Jan;23(1):86-95.

Floral diversity increases beneficial arthropod richness and decreases variability in arthropod community composition.

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Department of Entomology, 1630 Linden Drive, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Declines in species diversity resulting from anthropogenic alterations of the environment heighten the need to develop management strategies that conserve species and ecosystem services. This study examined how native plant species and their diversity influence the abundance and richness of beneficial arthropods, a functionally important group that provides ecosystem services such as pollination and natural pest suppression. Beneficial arthropods were sampled in replicated study plots containing native perennials planted in one-, two-, and seven-species mixtures. We found plant diversity had a positive impact on arthropod richness but not on arthropod abundance. An analysis of arthropod community composition revealed that each flower species attracted a different assemblage of beneficial arthropods. In addition, the full seven-species mixture also attracted a distinct arthropod community compared to single-species monocultures. Using a multivariate approach, we determined whether arthropod assemblages in two- and seven-species plots were additive and could be predicted based on assemblages from their component single-species plots. On average, assemblages in diverse plots were nonadditive when compared to assemblages predicted using single-species plots. Arthropod assemblages in two-species plots most closely resembled those of only one of the flower species in the mixture. However, the arthropod assemblages in seven-species plots, although statistically deviating from the expectation of an additive model, more closely resembled predicted communities compared to the assemblages found in two-species plots, suggesting that variability in arthropod community composition decreased as planting diversity increased. Our study demonstrates that careful selection of plants in managed landscapes can augment beneficial arthropod richness and support a more predictable arthropod community, suggesting that planning and design efforts could shape arthropod assemblages in natural as well as managed landscapes to meet targeted conservation or management goals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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